Areas of work and programmes: Women’s Economic Empowerment

UN Women’s specific mandate on women’s economic empowerment is guided by a range of international standards and normative frameworks, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW); the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995); relevant outcomes of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) including resolution 54/4 of 2010 on women’s economic empowerment, and a series of the International Labour Organization conventions on gender equality. UN Women supports the adoption of the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) as a key tool for the implementation of these norms and standards.

Evidence shows that gender equality significantly contributes to advancing societies’ economies and sustainable development securing better lives for women, men and the society as a whole. UN Women works to support all stakeholders, including governments, civil society, the private sector and academia to achieve WEE. With its partners, UN Women designs and implements programmes that aim to support women to have higher incomes, better access to and control over resources, and greater security, including protection from violence. These efforts are in alignment with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and in particular, with SDG 5, which calls on UN member States to “give women equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources, in accordance with national law” and SDG 8 on “promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all”.

In the area of WEE, UN Women Regional Office for the Arab States works with its partners to, inter alia:

  • Provide policy support to governments to translate the targets of the SDGs into the regional and local context;
  • Promote gender-responsive evidence-based policies through engaging the Arab Women’s Economic Network “Khadija”, a platform for advocacy and knowledge dissemination under the umbrella of the League of Arab States;
  • Strengthen the capacity of civil society to engage in dialogue with governments on ensuring relevant laws and related policies are gender-responsive;
  • Enhance capacities of national institutions to provide gender-responsive services related to economic empowerment;
  • Promote decent work and productive employment by addressing the structural causes of inequalities that women face - jointly with ILO;
  • Promote women’s entrepreneurship, alleviate barriers and contribute to an enabling environment for entrepreneurship development - jointly with UNIDO and FAO;
  • Elevate the focus on women in the migration debate and contribute to the promotion of safe and gender equal opportunities for migrant women workers in the MENA region - jointly with IOM;
  • Promote the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) and engage with the private sector to enhance the situation of women in the economy for inclusive and sustainable growth; and
  • Challenge gender stereotypes increase awareness and support to address gender-based discrimination present at the individual and household level that disempowers women and entrenches gender inequalities in society.

In all our economic empowerment programmes, UN Women reaches out to women most in need, often by engaging with grass-roots and civil society organizations. In this context, marginalized groups include rural women, domestic workers, some migrants and low-skilled women. By adopting an inclusive approach to programming, UN Women aims to contribute to securing higher incomes, better access to and control over resources, and greater security for all women, including protection from violence.

UN Women engages an open global community for Women’s Economic Empowerment on the web portal This knowledge gateway provides opportunities for its members to find and share resources and learning tools; connect with peers and experts; and to discuss, generate new ideas and advocate for women’s economic empowerment. It brings together a diverse range of partners, networks and members from international organizations, private sector, governments, academia and civil society.